Monday, 4 October 2010

The poverty of maternal mortality rates

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I am having one of my political rants today. I can't help myself because this topic is so disturbing to me.

The world is losing its battle against poverty. Even though the world's nations have recently pledged another $40 billion to the UN Millenium Plan to drastically reduce worldwide poverty by 2015, we are not on target to achieve this worthy goal.

Poverty is everybody's problem, but it effects women even more than men.

In the poorest nations in the world maternal mortality rates are higher than in richer nations.

The major direct causes of maternal morbidity and mortality include haemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labour.

One of Australia's Pacific neighbours has a terrible statistic that was revealed at the UN Summit. In Papua New Guinea the rates of maternal mortality has nearly doubled in the past 14 years. Doubled. I find this frightening.

If you live in a poor nation childbirth is more of a gamble.

You can't be assured the necessary C-section that might save your life and that of your baby.

You are less likely to access pre-natal care.

You are less likely to have access to post-natal care.

Death whilst bearing life.

It doesn't seem right.

My mother gave birth to both of my sister's in PNG. I am thankful that she was 'born to breed' and had complication-free labours.

As a person who has not been able to birth in the conventional way, I thank my lucky stars that I was born in a country that has good pre- and post-natal care and first-rate surgeons.

The outcome of my first labour could easily have been very different. Very different indeed.

There must be something we can do for our 'sisters' in these poor Pacific Island nations?

Where you live should have no impact on how you birth. All women deserve to meet their babies. All babies deserve to live full and happy lives.

It just isn't right.


Kelly said...

That’s terrible; in this day and age it should be improving instead of getting worst.

I’m a bleeder and lost a lot of blood after all three births. And my first Alex came out with the cord wrapped around her neck. We would have had a very different story too if we didn’t live in a country with good medical care.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I really struggled emotionally when our girls were born, beating myself up for not being able to breastfeed exclusively, as I had always planned. I just sobbed, thinking, this is what a mother is *supposed* to do...what if I were in the jungles of Africa, I wondered, without access to formula...would my babies starve? And then I finally remembered that, in the jungles of Africa, I likely never would have gotten pregnant, and if I had (at least with twins), they likely would never have survived. So yes, thank goodness we are fortunate to live in a country with good medical care...and (I finally admitted) good infant formula. :)

I read a memoir a couple of years ago, Nine Hills to Nambonkaha, about an American health worker volunteering in a remote African village. She implemented some incredibly basic health care reforms for pre- and post-natal care. It's amazing what a big difference such small changes could make in mortality rates. Interestingly, one of her biggest hurdles - at least in that village - was convincing the people, mothers included, that there were different ways to consider doing things, outside of their customs.

Great post!

Gill@OurParklife said...

yes i completley agree with you...My first labour was complication free, my second was a placenta previa pregnancy more than likey meaning that both Moneky2 and and I would not have survived had we not been lucky enough to be in this country...I spoke to my midwife at the time and she told me some horrible stories about her nurinsg experience in less fortunate countries...We really are veru lucky to have access to such care and as you say, surely, we need to do something to help the women who do not...

GREAT post, love your rants!

life in a pink fibro said...

I'm with you. I went to a very inspiring talk at our local Women's Conference about this very subject. The women down here are very motivated about helping in a practical way and often get together to put together birthing kits to send overseas. They don't cost much - about $2 each, I think - and make such a huge difference. Let me know if you want more details - maybe you could put together a group in your area?

DancingInTheRain said...

I have been thinking a lot lately about how fortunate we are to live in such a previledged part of the world. If the world had 100 people and there was $100 in the whole world then 1 person would have $40. And if you are reading this then you are that 1 person (assuming you are reading this on your own computer in your own house). It doesnt seem right and I am with you that there must be something we can do. I think it can all seem too big but I like life in a pink fibro's idea, seems very achievable.

Nadiah said...

I feel you, but I would urge you to take heart. I watched a fantastic TED talk a while ago that showed that, while poverty is still a serious problem, things *have* gotten better.

I imagine being a primary caregiver you don't have a lot of spare time, but on the off-chance you do, it's well-worth the watch:

Poverty continues to be a problem, but our species *is* making progress, there *is* hope, and we can continue to make progress by doing everyday simple things like choosing to purchase ethical, supporting development programs, and of course what you are doing, which is to agitate for change.

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